Potato-cheese pierogi from scratch

Source: Fine Cooking #121 (also at FineCooking.com)

I remember eating pierogi as a kid. My parents would buy them from a Ukrainian church group that made authentic pierogi to raise money. When I moved away for university, I would buy frozen grocery store pierogi because they were a fast, cheap, filling meal.

Pierogi are an Eastern European dumpling, typically filled with mashed potatoes, fried onions and fresh white cheese. However, there are numerous variations. For me, pierogi are a delicious comfort food.

Surprisingly, pierogi are easy to make from scratch, and don’t take as much time as you would expect, especially if you have a partner in the kitchen.

The filling comes together as quickly as making mashed potatoes. For the version I made, the filling consists of mashed potatoes, deeply browned onions and a fresh white cheese. I used goat cheese because of the nice tang it provides. (The key is a cheese that won’t release moisture. If you use ricotta or cottage cheese, it must be drained of all liquid.)

The dough is a simple, unleavened dough made from flour, butter and water. Some recipes have you roll out each pierogi wrapper individually… don’t do it! Divide the dough into a few batches and roll out a large piece of dough. Then cut out the pierogi wrappers with a 3-inch cookie cutter or inverted glass or bowl. (The dough scraps can be recombined to make additional wrappers.)

Once the dough and wrappers are done, you stuff each pierogi wrapper with about a tablespoon of filling, then fold the wrapper and seal the edges. I wipe the edge with a bit of water to help it seal.

The pierogi can be cooked immediately, refrigerated for a few days, or frozen.

To cook the pierogi, boil them in salted water until they float to the top. This will only take 1-2 minutes for room temperature pierogi, or a few minutes for frozen ones. After boiling, I like to fry them in butter with caramelized onions to give the outside a bit of crunch.

Making your own pierogi from scratch is a great weekend activity that only takes a couple hours from start to finish, and you have plenty of extra pierogi to freeze for weekday meals.

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